Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for December 6, 2013

Skate plaza design team hears input – Gustine Press

NEWMAN – Plans for the development of a community skate plaza moved forward with a development and design meeting held at the youth center in early November. Representatives from Spohn Ranch, the company contracted to design and build the plaza, met with local skaters as well as community members to gain insight into what features are essential in the project.

The city hopes to build a skate plaza where the Newman Plunge once stood, near the L.J. Newman Memorial Building and Matteri Field.

Jason Baldessari, who designs features and skate plazas for Spohn Ranch, a sub-contractor to O’Dell Engineering on the skate park planning, presented the company’s philosophy of design as being locally focused and attractive to the community.

“Our goal is to make each plaza a community space where skating can become a bit of a spectator sport,” Baldessari explained. “We try to incorporate the overall look of the community we’re building for so that the plaza ties into the local landscape.”

In addition to a focus on community aesthetics, Baldessari emphasized the need for individuality in each design.
“Skate parks and plazas, for a long time, were built as a concrete slab with maybe one or two homemade ramps the skaters brought in themselves. We try to move past that with every park we build,” Baldessari noted. “We don’t want this plaza to look like the one down the street; we want it to have its own identity.”

Skaters and community members voiced their opinions regarding features in the plaza through a survey given by Spohn Ranch and were given the opportunity to sketch their own layouts on a scale map of the construction site.

Skaters at the meeting requested more street-style features such as rails and box-style ramps rather than the more traditional vertical ramps and half-pipes. The idea of a skateboard/BMX trail around the perimeter of the park was offered as a well, but drew concerns about potential conflicts with Matteri Field activity and obscured sight lines.

Other ideas about the overall landscaping of the park were offered including locations of trees and plants within the park.

“This phase of what we do is really the key for us,” Baldessari commented. “We’re able to get a feel for what the kids would like to see in the plaza. We’re able to get a better idea for what we need to include in our proposal.”

Baldessari noted that part of the design process is for Spohn Ranch to generate a virtual layout of the park which the client “tours” before construction.

“We make a computer model of the plaza and that lets us see everything as it will look after we build it,” he explained. “This lets us look at all the sight lines in the park and make sure that things meant to be hidden from a certain area are out of view, as well as what the park looks like from various angles.

Recreation Coordinator Stephanie House called the meeting a success noting that the cross-generational audience responded well to the process.

“It was great to see these kids connecting with a group of adults over a shared love of their sport,” House explained. “Skaters don’t often have a voice in the community and by allowing them to have input into what they were going to be getting out of this process was a big thing for everyone.”

Although attendance at the meeting was a bit small for a project of this size, House was pleased that the youth and community members who attended were able to express their ideas.

The small-group setting was conducive for the skaters to share their thoughts on what features they want incorporated into a skate plaze.

“I’ve told them all along that this meeting was a time for them to tell everyone what they want to see built and it was really easy for them to do that in a smaller group,” House commented.

The city is cobbling together a variety of funding sources for the skate plaza. To date, the city has set aside $105,000 in one-time grant funds and added another $10,000 in municipal funds. The city has also landed a $5,000 Tony Hawk Foundation grant and more recently a $2,000 grant from PGE. Local fund-raiser efforts spearheaded by skaters have raised approximately $4,000 as well.

The consultant will develop cost estimates on a skate plaza as well as conceptual plans. Another community meeting will be held when conceptual designs are completed.

Article source: http://www.westsideconnect.com/2013/12/06/skate-plaza-design-team-hears-input/

Skate plaza design team hears input – Gustine Press

NEWMAN – Plans for the development of a community skate plaza moved forward with a development and design meeting held at the youth center in early November. Representatives from Spohn Ranch, the company contracted to design and build the plaza, met with local skaters as well as community members to gain insight into what features are essential in the project.

The city hopes to build a skate plaza where the Newman Plunge once stood, near the L.J. Newman Memorial Building and Matteri Field.

Jason Baldessari, who designs features and skate plazas for Spohn Ranch, a sub-contractor to O’Dell Engineering on the skate park planning, presented the company’s philosophy of design as being locally focused and attractive to the community.

“Our goal is to make each plaza a community space where skating can become a bit of a spectator sport,” Baldessari explained. “We try to incorporate the overall look of the community we’re building for so that the plaza ties into the local landscape.”

In addition to a focus on community aesthetics, Baldessari emphasized the need for individuality in each design.
“Skate parks and plazas, for a long time, were built as a concrete slab with maybe one or two homemade ramps the skaters brought in themselves. We try to move past that with every park we build,” Baldessari noted. “We don’t want this plaza to look like the one down the street; we want it to have its own identity.”

Skaters and community members voiced their opinions regarding features in the plaza through a survey given by Spohn Ranch and were given the opportunity to sketch their own layouts on a scale map of the construction site.

Skaters at the meeting requested more street-style features such as rails and box-style ramps rather than the more traditional vertical ramps and half-pipes. The idea of a skateboard/BMX trail around the perimeter of the park was offered as a well, but drew concerns about potential conflicts with Matteri Field activity and obscured sight lines.

Other ideas about the overall landscaping of the park were offered including locations of trees and plants within the park.

“This phase of what we do is really the key for us,” Baldessari commented. “We’re able to get a feel for what the kids would like to see in the plaza. We’re able to get a better idea for what we need to include in our proposal.”

Baldessari noted that part of the design process is for Spohn Ranch to generate a virtual layout of the park which the client “tours” before construction.

“We make a computer model of the plaza and that lets us see everything as it will look after we build it,” he explained. “This lets us look at all the sight lines in the park and make sure that things meant to be hidden from a certain area are out of view, as well as what the park looks like from various angles.

Recreation Coordinator Stephanie House called the meeting a success noting that the cross-generational audience responded well to the process.

“It was great to see these kids connecting with a group of adults over a shared love of their sport,” House explained. “Skaters don’t often have a voice in the community and by allowing them to have input into what they were going to be getting out of this process was a big thing for everyone.”

Although attendance at the meeting was a bit small for a project of this size, House was pleased that the youth and community members who attended were able to express their ideas.

The small-group setting was conducive for the skaters to share their thoughts on what features they want incorporated into a skate plaze.

“I’ve told them all along that this meeting was a time for them to tell everyone what they want to see built and it was really easy for them to do that in a smaller group,” House commented.

The city is cobbling together a variety of funding sources for the skate plaza. To date, the city has set aside $105,000 in one-time grant funds and added another $10,000 in municipal funds. The city has also landed a $5,000 Tony Hawk Foundation grant and more recently a $2,000 grant from PGE. Local fund-raiser efforts spearheaded by skaters have raised approximately $4,000 as well.

The consultant will develop cost estimates on a skate plaza as well as conceptual plans. Another community meeting will be held when conceptual designs are completed.

Article source: http://www.westsideconnect.com/2013/12/06/skate-plaza-design-team-hears-input/

Walnut Creek: Broadway Plaza expansion plans up for final approval Tuesday

WALNUT CREEK — In 2009, an out-of-town rival mall company went toe-to-toe with Broadway Plaza’s owner in an attempt to block a Neiman Marcus store from coming to the downtown. Lawsuits were filed, paid signature gatherers invaded town and, ultimately, Walnut Creek voters made the final call to allow the 92,000-square-foot store to be built.

Four years later, plans for a 300,000-square-foot expansion at the outdoor mall — as well as major renovations and improvements throughout the center — have generated far less hype. In fact, at the Planning Commission’s final public hearing in November on Broadway Plaza’s Long Range Master Plan, not one person offered public comment.

Mayor Kristina Lawson said she thinks that’s because residents are committed to downtown Walnut Creek.

“In 2009, our own residents overwhelmingly confirmed their commitment to a thriving downtown after out-of-town interests tried to throw Walnut Creek off course,” she said. “Just four years later, it appears those out-of-town interests got the message.”

At a special meeting Tuesday night, the City Council is expected to decide on a plan that lays out development at the center for as long as the next 20 years. As part of the deal, the city will enter into a development agreement with Broadway Plaza owner Macerich that would give the company 20 years to implement the long-range master plan, in exchange for up to $5 million in payments to the city.

While earlier versions of the shopping center’s long-range plan called for shutting down a public street and even potentially adding housing, those ideas have been scrapped. Macerich now intends to build more stores, renovate existing buildings, rebuild a parking garage and make myriad other improvements.

The expansion will disrupt businesses at the 60-year-old center, as many store owners will be — or already have been — forced to set up shop somewhere else or close down altogether. The first phase of the plan includes demolishing and rebuilding the parking garage on South Broadway, expansion of Macy’s and the face-lift, remodel or expansion of many other existing stores. Later plans include construction of a new two- or three-story building on the west side of Broadway Plaza, in the current Macy’s men’s shop location.

Some city officials worry about the loss of parking during construction. Demolition of the Nordstrom garage, which fronts Broadway, will mean a loss of 200 parking spaces for 11 months.

“How are we going to avoid the hell that is going to exist there?” Planning Commissioner Neil Gerstner asked at a November public hearing on the plan.

Garrett Newland, a Macerich vice president, said there is a parking plan that will be implemented during construction.

“It won’t be easy but we will manage it well,” he said in November.

Macerich will offer free valet service during peak times, and employee shuttles. Plans call for the garage to be ready before the 2014 holiday season.

While most of the expansion will bring more retail similar to that already at Broadway Plaza, there is also room in the plan for two auto dealership showrooms. Extensive landscaping and aesthetic improvements, as well as widening a portion of Newell Avenue to accommodate bike lanes on both sides, is also included.

Besides some pedestrian and bicycle improvements, the addition of left-turn room off Broadway and a signal at Newell and Maria Lane, there are no other traffic infrastructure improvements in store. That worries some city planners.

“I really don’t understand how we are handling the 300,000 square feet of load … I don’t understand what we are doing to handle the traffic — because (traffic) is bad now,” Planning Commissioner Bob Pickett said at the November meeting.

Macerich officials said the city’s general plan environmental impact report does consider this kind of expansion.

Other planners said it’s in the mall owner’s best interest to not create more traffic problems, as that would discourage shoppers.

Lawson points out the expansion’s benefits, including the number of local construction jobs it will create.

“The expected quarter-billion dollar investment by publicly traded Macerich Co. is a huge win for Walnut Creek and confirms that Walnut Creek is the place to be in the East Bay,” she said. “In the long term, Macerich’s significant investment will help ensure Walnut Creek remains a regional leader — not only from a shopping perspective, but from a quality-of-life perspective, too.”

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_24672465/walnut-creek-broadway-plaza-expansion-plans-up-final

Walnut Creek: Broadway Plaza expansion plans up for final approval Tuesday

WALNUT CREEK — In 2009, an out-of-town rival mall company went toe-to-toe with Broadway Plaza’s owner in an attempt to block a Neiman Marcus store from coming to the downtown. Lawsuits were filed, paid signature gatherers invaded town and, ultimately, Walnut Creek voters made the final call to allow the 92,000-square-foot store to be built.

Four years later, plans for a 300,000-square-foot expansion at the outdoor mall — as well as major renovations and improvements throughout the center — have generated far less hype. In fact, at the Planning Commission’s final public hearing in November on Broadway Plaza’s Long Range Master Plan, not one person offered public comment.

Mayor Kristina Lawson said she thinks that’s because residents are committed to downtown Walnut Creek.

“In 2009, our own residents overwhelmingly confirmed their commitment to a thriving downtown after out-of-town interests tried to throw Walnut Creek off course,” she said. “Just four years later, it appears those out-of-town interests got the message.”

At a special meeting Tuesday night, the City Council is expected to decide on a plan that lays out development at the center for as long as the next 20 years. As part of the deal, the city will enter into a development agreement with Broadway Plaza owner Macerich that would give the company 20 years to implement the long-range master plan, in exchange for up to $5 million in payments to the city.

While earlier versions of the shopping center’s long-range plan called for shutting down a public street and even potentially adding housing, those ideas have been scrapped. Macerich now intends to build more stores, renovate existing buildings, rebuild a parking garage and make myriad other improvements.

The expansion will disrupt businesses at the 60-year-old center, as many store owners will be — or already have been — forced to set up shop somewhere else or close down altogether. The first phase of the plan includes demolishing and rebuilding the parking garage on South Broadway, expansion of Macy’s and the face-lift, remodel or expansion of many other existing stores. Later plans include construction of a new two- or three-story building on the west side of Broadway Plaza, in the current Macy’s men’s shop location.

Some city officials worry about the loss of parking during construction. Demolition of the Nordstrom garage, which fronts Broadway, will mean a loss of 200 parking spaces for 11 months.

“How are we going to avoid the hell that is going to exist there?” Planning Commissioner Neil Gerstner asked at a November public hearing on the plan.

Garrett Newland, a Macerich vice president, said there is a parking plan that will be implemented during construction.

“It won’t be easy but we will manage it well,” he said in November.

Macerich will offer free valet service during peak times, and employee shuttles. Plans call for the garage to be ready before the 2014 holiday season.

While most of the expansion will bring more retail similar to that already at Broadway Plaza, there is also room in the plan for two auto dealership showrooms. Extensive landscaping and aesthetic improvements, as well as widening a portion of Newell Avenue to accommodate bike lanes on both sides, is also included.

Besides some pedestrian and bicycle improvements, the addition of left-turn room off Broadway and a signal at Newell and Maria Lane, there are no other traffic infrastructure improvements in store. That worries some city planners.

“I really don’t understand how we are handling the 300,000 square feet of load … I don’t understand what we are doing to handle the traffic — because (traffic) is bad now,” Planning Commissioner Bob Pickett said at the November meeting.

Macerich officials said the city’s general plan environmental impact report does consider this kind of expansion.

Other planners said it’s in the mall owner’s best interest to not create more traffic problems, as that would discourage shoppers.

Lawson points out the expansion’s benefits, including the number of local construction jobs it will create.

“The expected quarter-billion dollar investment by publicly traded Macerich Co. is a huge win for Walnut Creek and confirms that Walnut Creek is the place to be in the East Bay,” she said. “In the long term, Macerich’s significant investment will help ensure Walnut Creek remains a regional leader — not only from a shopping perspective, but from a quality-of-life perspective, too.”

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_24672465/walnut-creek-broadway-plaza-expansion-plans-up-final

Laurel Abbott: Santa Barbara Association of Realtors Receives ‘Water Hero Award’

The Santa Barbara Association of Realtors is pleased to announce that we will be receiving the City of Santa Barbara’s Water Hero Award from the Department of Water Conservation.

This is the result of our recent re-landscaping of the front lawn at 1415 Chapala St. As is the case with many commercial buildings in Santa Barbara, the SBAOR building had a grass lawn in front. We had high water bills, and flooding in our basement during high rains that needed to be rectified.

With these ideas in mind, as well as some guidance from our Board of Directors and resident “green” guy Bob Hart, our association executive, we employed our affiliate Wilson Environmental Contracting to change our landscape.

We now have a Demonstration Garden for the community to see how landscaping can be beautiful and yet use less resources. We have a plethora of native, drought-tolerant plants thoughtfully planted for beauty as well as alternating blooming cycles, all of which will significantly cut our water consumption and use of fuel and fertilizer.

The changes have significantly and simply reduced flooding under the building by redirecting roof and landscape runoff away from the building toward a suitable area of the landscape where the water can infiltrate and deep irrigate the plants. We estimate that we have cut our landscaping water usage by 80 percent.

This evolution matches our ideals in reducing waste, beautifying our environment and creating a sustainable landscape for the future.

SBAOR is honored to join the ranks of The Towbes Group and Dennis Allen as previous recipients of this award. Thank you to my Board of Directors and Hart for having the vision to make this change and to the city for recognizing our efforts to reduce water usage and beautify our town.

Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway California Properties and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at laurel@laurelabbott.com or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.

Article source: http://www.noozhawk.com/article/laurel_abbott_realtors_water_hero_award_20131206

Laurel Abbott: Santa Barbara Association of Realtors Receives ‘Water Hero Award’

The Santa Barbara Association of Realtors is pleased to announce that we will be receiving the City of Santa Barbara’s Water Hero Award from the Department of Water Conservation.

This is the result of our recent re-landscaping of the front lawn at 1415 Chapala St. As is the case with many commercial buildings in Santa Barbara, the SBAOR building had a grass lawn in front. We had high water bills, and flooding in our basement during high rains that needed to be rectified.

With these ideas in mind, as well as some guidance from our Board of Directors and resident “green” guy Bob Hart, our association executive, we employed our affiliate Wilson Environmental Contracting to change our landscape.

We now have a Demonstration Garden for the community to see how landscaping can be beautiful and yet use less resources. We have a plethora of native, drought-tolerant plants thoughtfully planted for beauty as well as alternating blooming cycles, all of which will significantly cut our water consumption and use of fuel and fertilizer.

The changes have significantly and simply reduced flooding under the building by redirecting roof and landscape runoff away from the building toward a suitable area of the landscape where the water can infiltrate and deep irrigate the plants. We estimate that we have cut our landscaping water usage by 80 percent.

This evolution matches our ideals in reducing waste, beautifying our environment and creating a sustainable landscape for the future.

SBAOR is honored to join the ranks of The Towbes Group and Dennis Allen as previous recipients of this award. Thank you to my Board of Directors and Hart for having the vision to make this change and to the city for recognizing our efforts to reduce water usage and beautify our town.

Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway California Properties and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at laurel@laurelabbott.com or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.

Article source: http://www.noozhawk.com/article/laurel_abbott_realtors_water_hero_award_20131206

Where pro gardeners get their green thumbs

Last in a four-part series on gardening and professional horticulture.

The need for competent, educated professional gardeners is obvious to David Davidson whenever he walks around his neighbourhood.

“I see a lot of plants growing in gardens but they are kind of mediocre and struggling. They are growing, they are not dying, but they are not thriving either,” says Davidson, associate dean at Kwantlen’s School of Horticulture in Langley.

“The attitude of homeowners seems to be that if a plant is not dead, it is OK. But there is a big difference between a flourishing, healthy plant and one that is barely surviving.”

It is Davidson’s job to shape and promote and oversee the many horticulture courses at the school, which – since it was established in 1993 – has evolved to become the biggest horticultural training centre of its kind in B.C. and one of the most prestigious in Canada.

Davidson believes that not only home gardens and public landscapes would be better if more professionals were consulted and engaged to do the work, but the overall quality of life of the whole community would benefit from the positive impact of well designed, proficiently planted and professionally maintained green spaces.

“What typically happens is that when a new house is built, the top soil disappears early in construction. Then the ground is capped with mediocre soil and the site is over-planted, often with inappropriate trees and all sorts of plants in the wrong place.

“I see an awful lot of houses with southern exposure with rhododendrons and azaleas planted in them. They don’t die, but they don’t look great. They limp on for about three or four years and when they start to look very bad, the homeowner hires a professional. Finally, the work gets done properly and the homeowner ends up with an excellent product.”

At the Kwantlen campus, students are being trained for careers in horticulture – as landscapers, designers, turf managers for golf courses, pest control specialists, greenhouse production workers and plant experts.

Some graduates have gone on to start their own successful landscaping firms. Others have become superintendents at golf courses, overseeing the professional maintenance of the turf, trees and shrub areas.

At the school , courses fall into three main categories – diploma courses, apprenticeship training and citations.

The most popular is the twoyear horticulture diploma course, which offers three areas of specialization – landscape design and installation, greenhouse and nursery production and turf management.

Graduates have the option to continue their studies by doing a degree in horticulture science, which has a strong emphasis on pest management, plant pathology and biological controls.

There is also a degree course offered in Urban Ecosystems, which is a more analytical program focused on the management of urban green spaces, especially how landscaping impacts quality of life.

But for many young people already working in the landscape and nursery industry, the college’s horticultural apprenticeship programs are tailor-made to help them get better qualifications and more professional know-how.

Article source: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Where+gardeners+their+green+thumbs/9255080/story.html

Where pro gardeners get their green thumbs

Last in a four-part series on gardening and professional horticulture.

The need for competent, educated professional gardeners is obvious to David Davidson whenever he walks around his neighbourhood.

“I see a lot of plants growing in gardens but they are kind of mediocre and struggling. They are growing, they are not dying, but they are not thriving either,” says Davidson, associate dean at Kwantlen’s School of Horticulture in Langley.

“The attitude of homeowners seems to be that if a plant is not dead, it is OK. But there is a big difference between a flourishing, healthy plant and one that is barely surviving.”

It is Davidson’s job to shape and promote and oversee the many horticulture courses at the school, which – since it was established in 1993 – has evolved to become the biggest horticultural training centre of its kind in B.C. and one of the most prestigious in Canada.

Davidson believes that not only home gardens and public landscapes would be better if more professionals were consulted and engaged to do the work, but the overall quality of life of the whole community would benefit from the positive impact of well designed, proficiently planted and professionally maintained green spaces.

“What typically happens is that when a new house is built, the top soil disappears early in construction. Then the ground is capped with mediocre soil and the site is over-planted, often with inappropriate trees and all sorts of plants in the wrong place.

“I see an awful lot of houses with southern exposure with rhododendrons and azaleas planted in them. They don’t die, but they don’t look great. They limp on for about three or four years and when they start to look very bad, the homeowner hires a professional. Finally, the work gets done properly and the homeowner ends up with an excellent product.”

At the Kwantlen campus, students are being trained for careers in horticulture – as landscapers, designers, turf managers for golf courses, pest control specialists, greenhouse production workers and plant experts.

Some graduates have gone on to start their own successful landscaping firms. Others have become superintendents at golf courses, overseeing the professional maintenance of the turf, trees and shrub areas.

At the school , courses fall into three main categories – diploma courses, apprenticeship training and citations.

The most popular is the twoyear horticulture diploma course, which offers three areas of specialization – landscape design and installation, greenhouse and nursery production and turf management.

Graduates have the option to continue their studies by doing a degree in horticulture science, which has a strong emphasis on pest management, plant pathology and biological controls.

There is also a degree course offered in Urban Ecosystems, which is a more analytical program focused on the management of urban green spaces, especially how landscaping impacts quality of life.

But for many young people already working in the landscape and nursery industry, the college’s horticultural apprenticeship programs are tailor-made to help them get better qualifications and more professional know-how.

Article source: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Where+gardeners+their+green+thumbs/9255080/story.html

Compost, the beating heart of the garden – The Media Co

Compost, the beating heart of the garden

A vermin-tight, inexpensive and modular compost box uses 2x4s and mesh
A vermin-tight, inexpensive and modular compost box uses 2x4s and mesh
Joseph Jenkins provides this design in the Humanure Handbook
Joseph Jenkins provides this design in the Humanure Handbook

Most homes, in my experience, do not keep compost on site for the garden, electing to send it away in the green bin.  If you have a garden, you need to have on-site compost. Here’s why.

Composting corrects nutrient mining from farms by cities

One could consider composting to be a process of enriching your own land with fertility you’ve bought from farms. You’ve only eaten it first. When you send away your compost, the city profits from your organics, which are then sold to landscaping companies to fertilize ornamental gardens.

During the second world war and before, micronutrients (vegetables and fruits giving vitamins and minerals) used to be produced at home, while macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein-and yes, fat is a nutrient, we need it to survive) were grown in the more spaceous lands of the agricultural hinterland and brought into cities.

This meant that foods that demand a higher nutrient input, vegetables, were produced closer to home, where the nutrients could ultimately be composted back into the soil. Foods like grains or meats returned much of their fertility back to the farm’s soil as chaff or manure and hides and other unused body, with only part of their total value being sent into the city. This represented a more economical transfer of soil nutrients, with less being sent from farms into cities.

Compost reduces the effects of acid rain

I worked at the home of one client who had gardened and home-composted on the Halifax peninsula for three decades. She had her garden soil tested by the Agricultural College at Truro and discovered that her soil was chemically neutral. No small feat in a part of the country with acidic bedrock and industrially produced acid rain. I credit the compost and the constant groundcover of perennial and self-seeding annual plants, even though those plants were almost all ornamental.

One reason might have been a good cationic exchange capacity, the process by which plants acquire the minerals they need. Basically plants break down water (H2O) into an H+ and an OH-. Their roots will hold out the OH- , wave it around, and hope to grab a K+ or Ca2+ atom or molecule, securing those atoms they need to live from their soil. Cationic exchange capacity is a measure of soil health, and the ability of plants to do this. It also makes the pH of the soil more stable, making sure it is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. A good fraction of humus and organic matter will increase the cationic exchange capacity of the soil. (wikipedia)

Compost provides the soil life plants need to make use of nutrients

Your soil can have fertility but without life to assist your garden, your plants will have a much more difficult time. The field of soil chemistry is immensely diverse, but simply stated, more living things in your soil means your soil aggregates more (clumps), providing room for more water absorption, more air, more habitat for yet more soil creatures and creating more surface area for cation exchange to take place. Soil organisms such as fungi and bacteria also form symbiotic relationships with plants, especially perennials and trees.

So if your garden isn’t up to snuff or even if it is, consider growing your soil. After all it’s your soil that grows your garden.

Here are some simple designs for compost boxes. I like to have space for a cubic yard in a box, with 4’wide walls. Three pallets lashed together are all you need to get started, but I like to use 1/4 inch mesh or “hardware cloth” to keep out all but the smallest animals.

The best deal I’ve found is at Pierceys on Robie street who sells 25 feet for around $30. I staple this to beams to make panels, and then assemble the panels. This design has the benefit of being modular, so if you move you can take it with you.





Otter Lake Landfill: glimmer of hope for community


Dec 5


New Cooperative Grocery Store to Open on Gottingen


Dec 4


Six Degrees of Separation – Fracking New Brunswick Edition


Dec 2


A Reminder for the Crown


Dec 2



Article source: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/blog/jenstotland/20236

Compost, the beating heart of the garden – The Media Co

Compost, the beating heart of the garden

A vermin-tight, inexpensive and modular compost box uses 2x4s and mesh
A vermin-tight, inexpensive and modular compost box uses 2x4s and mesh
Joseph Jenkins provides this design in the Humanure Handbook
Joseph Jenkins provides this design in the Humanure Handbook

Most homes, in my experience, do not keep compost on site for the garden, electing to send it away in the green bin.  If you have a garden, you need to have on-site compost. Here’s why.

Composting corrects nutrient mining from farms by cities

One could consider composting to be a process of enriching your own land with fertility you’ve bought from farms. You’ve only eaten it first. When you send away your compost, the city profits from your organics, which are then sold to landscaping companies to fertilize ornamental gardens.

During the second world war and before, micronutrients (vegetables and fruits giving vitamins and minerals) used to be produced at home, while macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein-and yes, fat is a nutrient, we need it to survive) were grown in the more spaceous lands of the agricultural hinterland and brought into cities.

This meant that foods that demand a higher nutrient input, vegetables, were produced closer to home, where the nutrients could ultimately be composted back into the soil. Foods like grains or meats returned much of their fertility back to the farm’s soil as chaff or manure and hides and other unused body, with only part of their total value being sent into the city. This represented a more economical transfer of soil nutrients, with less being sent from farms into cities.

Compost reduces the effects of acid rain

I worked at the home of one client who had gardened and home-composted on the Halifax peninsula for three decades. She had her garden soil tested by the Agricultural College at Truro and discovered that her soil was chemically neutral. No small feat in a part of the country with acidic bedrock and industrially produced acid rain. I credit the compost and the constant groundcover of perennial and self-seeding annual plants, even though those plants were almost all ornamental.

One reason might have been a good cationic exchange capacity, the process by which plants acquire the minerals they need. Basically plants break down water (H2O) into an H+ and an OH-. Their roots will hold out the OH- , wave it around, and hope to grab a K+ or Ca2+ atom or molecule, securing those atoms they need to live from their soil. Cationic exchange capacity is a measure of soil health, and the ability of plants to do this. It also makes the pH of the soil more stable, making sure it is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. A good fraction of humus and organic matter will increase the cationic exchange capacity of the soil. (wikipedia)

Compost provides the soil life plants need to make use of nutrients

Your soil can have fertility but without life to assist your garden, your plants will have a much more difficult time. The field of soil chemistry is immensely diverse, but simply stated, more living things in your soil means your soil aggregates more (clumps), providing room for more water absorption, more air, more habitat for yet more soil creatures and creating more surface area for cation exchange to take place. Soil organisms such as fungi and bacteria also form symbiotic relationships with plants, especially perennials and trees.

So if your garden isn’t up to snuff or even if it is, consider growing your soil. After all it’s your soil that grows your garden.

Here are some simple designs for compost boxes. I like to have space for a cubic yard in a box, with 4’wide walls. Three pallets lashed together are all you need to get started, but I like to use 1/4 inch mesh or “hardware cloth” to keep out all but the smallest animals.

The best deal I’ve found is at Pierceys on Robie street who sells 25 feet for around $30. I staple this to beams to make panels, and then assemble the panels. This design has the benefit of being modular, so if you move you can take it with you.





Otter Lake Landfill: glimmer of hope for community


Dec 5


New Cooperative Grocery Store to Open on Gottingen


Dec 4


Six Degrees of Separation – Fracking New Brunswick Edition


Dec 2


A Reminder for the Crown


Dec 2



Article source: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/blog/jenstotland/20236